Written By: Lucas Thomas
The Wii U was released on November 18 and is the first Nintendo console that is in HD. The system was released in two versions, a “Basic” $299.99, 8 GB white and a “Deluxe” $349.99, black 32 GB version. The deluxe version includes two little stands for the gamepads, a charging dock and the game NintendoLand.
The Wii U’s primary controller is big and clunky. You might be expecting this to be a slim tablet-like device, but in fact its closer to an oversized handheld games machine much like the Atari lynx. It has a built-in screen like the Dreamcast controller and the touch screens of the DS. As of now, this controller is not sold separately and is very costly to replace. The controllers have built-in motion controls, a front-facing camera, and a touch screen that allows games to be played using touch controls, making them very versatile. They allow players to continue playing even when the television is off or turned to another input. However, the processing is not done on the gamepad but instead inputs and the resultant pictures are sent back and forth from the console—meaning the signal will be lost if you stray too far.
The console itself is only slightly more powerful than the existing 360 or PS3. It has a faster and more modern GPU, but early games do little to convince that it’s technically superior in any visible sense. Nobody expects Wii U to sell based on its graphics muscle. Instead, like the 3Ds or Wii, it will sell or not sell based on the unique experience it delivers.
The Gamepad is the Wii U’s only real innovation though rarely is it fully utilized and has a very low battery life (roughly three hours). Still, some games use the old Wii remote controllers instead. For example: in Pikmin 3, the gamepad only serves as a real-time GPS like maps on the side while you control the game using the Wii remote.
Famitsu Magazine reported that Wii U’s weekly sales dropped from 76,000 units to 70,000 units during the Christmas holiday period (This is the week many Japanese teenagers spend their New Year’s money and sales of consoles tend to drop significantly). During the week, all the others Japanese consoles excelled in sales like the Ps Vita which rose to 31,000 from initially 18,000.
Many say this console will be Nintendo’s undoing, but this is only based on the consoles early sales. Nintendo wanted to release their console before there was any rumor of new consoles from Sony or Microsoft.
On a positive note, the console is very well-designed and quiet, and the Wii U games I’ve played are very fun and enjoyable. The only question that remains is how will it compete with the next-generation systems? What will Sony and Microsoft have up their sleeves??